Industry Recruitment Flourishes

With four industry announcements totaling more than 300 jobs and three industries announcing expansions, 2005 was a good year according to Mike McCain, executive director of the Gadsden-Etowah Industrial Development Authority.

“I believe when the Alabama Development Office’s annual report of new and expanding industries is released Etowah County will once again rank among the top five in the state,” McCain said.

The four industries – Rigid Building Systems, Cintas Corp., Pinnacle Enterprises and Structural Dimensions – announced a total of 325 new jobs, McCain said.

Expansions by Dean Sausage, Decatur Plastics and Crown Column and Millwork added 125 jobs, McCain said.

McCain has been with IDA since 1985 and called 2005 “one of the better years. The past two years have been very, very good years.”

He said the average unemployment rate for 2004 was 6.5 percent and the year-to-date rate for 2005 was 4.7 percent.

The unemployment rate for November was 3.6 percent, which was close to an all-time low that the county had just prior to the closing of Gulf States Steel in August 2000.

The year saw more than 300 jobs created with industries announced in 2004, which saw the opening of Jay Mid-South, Prince Metal Stamping, Decatur Plastics and Southern Steel Products, McCain said.

McCain said the city of Gadsden’s development of the Gadsden Airport Industrial Park and has helped in having sites to show industries. He also noted the responsiveness of Mayor Steve Means, members of the city council and city employees in responding to the needs of prospects helped in recruiting industries.

He said having funding from Horizons 2012 helped with “deal closing” money and in the recruitment process.

The IDA has received about $80,000 annually from Horizons 2012, an economic and business development program of The Chamber, the chamber of commerce for Etowah County.

McCain said five new industries are already located in the airport industrial park and he hopes to announce a sixth will be locating there early next year.

The airport industrial park has been open less than three years and the first phase will be about 80 percent occupied when the new industry is announced.

McCain said there are plans for two more phases that can be developed.

He noted that economists say that every new industrial job in a community generates two service sector jobs and that the new jobs have helped to spur commercial development.

McCain also feels good about economic growth for 2006. He said IDA is working with three prospects including an auto parts manufacturer that would create 100 jobs, a metal process firm that would create 30 jobs and a medical products producer that would create 50 jobs.

By Andy Powell
Times Staff Writer